LTC Bullet:  Good News, Bad News  

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 

Seattle-- 

LTC Comment:  Senate passes deficit reduction bill including LTC Partnerships and Medicaid planning controls, BUT it's not a done deal yet!  More after the ***news.*** 

*** LTCI CONFERENCE.  Last chance to get early registration rates ends Friday for the Sixth Annual Intercompany Long-Term Care Insurance Conference in Anaheim, CA from February 26 to March 1, 2006.  Check it out at www.ILTCIconf.org.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform is a co-sponsor of this meeting and Center president Steve Moses will attend and present.  Our Administrative Coordinator Damon will attend, conduct interviews, take pictures and publish in-depth information on the event at our website. *** 

*** TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL contains an article by Sarah Lueck titled "Stiffer Rules for Nursing-Home Coverage:  Congress Expected to Limit Transfer of Assets to Kids in Bid to Cut Medicaid Costs" on page D1.  You can read it at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113512385722127936.html if you subscribe to the Journal online.  Otherwise, pick up a hard copy.  Here's a quote about today's Senate vote:  "'This is the Congress saying in no uncertain terms that we can't use Medicaid, a public welfare program, as the primary insurer for everyone,' says Stephen Moses, founder of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, a Seattle group that promotes revamping the Medicaid rules." *** 

*** VOLUMINOUS CONGRATULATIONS you're sending, although appreciated more than you can possibly know, are somewhat premature as you'll see from reading this Bullet.  But no matter what happens with current legislation in the end, long-term care policy will never be the same.  We've put the big issues on the table where they can no longer be evaded.  Funding for Medicaid and the need for private LTC financing alternatives will only become bigger and more urgent issues as the demographic walls close in on America.  So if you consider our work worthwhile, please help the Center survive financially too.  Join for $150 per year or $12.50 per month or get your company or organization collectively to join so you don't have to pay personally.  Contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He will Zone You In ASAP.  To negotiate corporate and organizational memberships, contact Steve Moses directly at 206-283-7036 or smoses@centerltc.com.  When you take the need for constant fundraising off our backs, you free us up to fight for LTC policy reform that benefits everyone.  Thanks for your support. *** 

LTC BULLET:  GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS 

LTC Comment:  First, for those of you who took our advice yesterday to call your Senators and urge passage of the Deficit Reduction Act, congratulations.  We won . . . sort of. 

By the slightest of margins, 51 to 50, with Vice President Cheney casting the deciding vote, the United States Senate this morning passed legislation to cut the federal deficit by $39.7 billion, curtail Medicaid planning abuse, and authorize LTC Partnerships.  That's the good news. 

This is ALMOST the same legislation we've been tracking for you that was passed by the House of Representatives early Monday morning after an all-night session, BUT NOT QUITE.  That's the bad news.  Here's the story. 

Green-eyeshaded Senate minority staffers fighting to kill this crucial legislation discovered that the Conference Agreement passed by the House contained some arcane procedural nuances that constituted technical violations of Senate rules.  They prevailed to strip these provisions from the Senate version. 

Here's the kicker.  Both houses of Congress must pass the IDENTICAL bill before it can be sent to the President for his signature and become law.  So, now the House of Representatives must vote again on virtually the same bill it already passed, but with these minor, immaterial changes made by the Senate. 

OK, no problem, right?  If the House passed it before, they'll pass it again.  We hope.  But there's a snag.  The House went home a few days ago and is not officially scheduled to reconvene until January 31. 

That gives the defenders of the status quo more than a month to mobilize misleading propaganda against Medicaid reform and sensible long-term care policy improvements.  Who are they? 

o  AARP which seeks to divert Medicaid from the poor to its affluent members and their heirs. 

o  NAELA, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, which seeks to preserve its cash cow, legalized artificial impoverishment of well-to-do clients to qualify them for Medicaid.

o  Numerous well-intentioned, but ill-advised advocates for the elderly and poor who have been misled to believe their clients benefit from the existing, utterly corrupt, system. 

So what needs to be done?  Call Speaker Hastert at 202-225-2976.  Ask him to call the House back into session immediately.  The whole House could be back in DC, vote this package into law, and return home in 24 hours.  What a difference a day makes! 

Ask your Congressman or Congresswoman to make it a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.  You can find their DC and local phone numbers at http://www.house.gov/.  Find them a flight schedule and urge them to wing their way into history. 

There is one other possibility to resolve this impasse.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could call upon all members to approve the version passed by the Senate in a unanimous voice vote.  That would not require members of the House to return to Washington, DC. 

Why would she do that?  To avoid the ire of her caucus if they are compelled to be uprooted from home and hearth right before the Holidays just to fly to DC for a vote.  Representative Pelosi's phone number is 202-225-4965 in DC and 415-556-4862 in her California District.  

Let's get this job done before we start the new, election year, when everything will get much harder to do politically.